Transferring Your Why[1] To Those That Matter

“Think of it this way:  your ‘why’ puts the love in what you serve.   Like a chef cooking up a feast – others can serve food, but only a chef in true sync with their why can put love on a plate.  So make your why contagious by serving out that love for what you do to your audience on a daily basis.”   Damien Schulze, Principal at COS

At COS, we are asked to review many documents that have been prepared to reflect the principles of a business.

In the main, these documents are premised around the aspirations of the business.  They are the quintessential business plan that are prepared, reviewed, finalised and then shelved for future reference.

These documents are sometimes shared with staff, but in the main we are told that they are only circulated in most cases to a select few that need to appreciate the ‘secret’ that reflects the aims and aspirations of the business.   There is always that nodding head at our meetings that agrees with our contention that the document needs to be across all major stakeholders of the organisation.   These stakeholders include staff, customers and future prospects.

Periodically, we find that the document might reappear with some airtime at a board meeting or amongst the leadership group.   But some are written with such a conservative hand they do not inspire people to flick to page two.   And by page three the audience is disengaged and deeply asleep.   So with a document written in that particular style, it quite often remains shelved.

The test is to hand the document over to a friend and ask for their immediate response.   Ask them if your ‘Why’ resonated with them?   Did they understand your why from reading the document?   Could they find your why in the document?   If not, then the document has failed and your organisation is falling behind.

In the main, these documents fail because they usually focus on your what and how.   Rarely do they touch on your why.

COS believes that these documents must be written with energy.   Your passion for why you do what you do must be leaping off the page.   It can’t be a secret hidden in a footnote, in an appendix nor can it be left unspoken.   There are too many competitors competing for your client base for your why to receive no airtime.   Your staff must understand, live and breathe your why also.   In essence, your staff must be its greatest advocate.

Once the why has been settled, start spruiking it across your social media network.   It makes sense to start this process today for the following reasons taken from a report completed by McKinsey Global Institute in 2012[2]:

  • Social platforms now have more than 1.5 billion members globally
  • One in five online hours is spent on social networks
  • In 2011, 72 percent of companies surveyed reported using social technologies in their businesses and 90 percent of those users reported that they are seeing benefits
  • The social growth indicates the primal appeal of social technologies, which bring speed, scale and economics on the internet to social interactions
  • Hundreds of millions of people have adopted new behaviours using social – forming, maintaining, and breaking social bonds – are now taking place online
  • People now rely on their social interactions – often including friends and associates they have never met in person
  • Social platforms have the potential to tap the great “cognitive surplus” of society by using leisure time for creating content and collaborating, rather than consuming
  • Thousands of companies have found that social technologies can generate rich new forms of consumer insights – at lower cost and faster than conventional methods.  Companies are now watching what consumers do and say to one another on social platforms, which provides unfiltered feedback data
  • The speed and scale of adoption of social technologies by consumers has exceeded that of previous technologies.
  • Two-thirds of the value creation opportunity afforded by social technologies lies in improving communications and collaboration within and across enterprises.   By adopting these organisational technologies, it is estimated that companies could raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent.

All of the above points to the immediate need to optimise your business by settling your why.  Once settled, there is an immediate urgency to share it.   It will bring unspeakable value to your organisation.   So don’t let your why be your best-kept secret.   If it is, then ask yourself, ‘why do I get up every morning if I am content keeping why I do what I do a secret?’


[2] McKinsey Global Institute, The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies July 2012